Meta launches new tech to tackle harmful content

Meta launches new tech to tackle harmful content
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Updated 24 December 2021

Meta launches new tech to tackle harmful content

Meta launches new tech to tackle harmful content
  • ‘Few-shot learner’ system needs fewer examples to identify damaging content, works faster

DUBAI: Earlier this year, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked internal company documents, and accused the social media giant of prioritizing profit over safety by failing to adequately tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content.

The whistleblower also said that 87 percent of misinformation spending is dedicated to English speakers, although only 9 percent of Facebook users are English speakers.

Now, Facebook’s parent company Meta has developed a new artificial intelligence system called “few-shot learner (FSL)” that it claims is faster, more efficient and works in over 100 languages, including Arabic.

“AI needs to learn what to look for and it typically takes several months to collect and label thousands, if not millions, of examples necessary to train each individual AI system to spot a new type of content,” the company said in a blog post.

The new FSL system works within weeks, instead of months, by learning from different kinds of data, such as images and text. It does this through a system called “few-shot learning,” wherein the program starts with a broad understanding of various topics and then narrows it down to fewer examples to learn new tasks.

“By leveraging few-shot mode early in the process, we can find data (samples) to bootstrap the model more efficiently, allowing us to thus label more efficiently. These samples can then get fed back into FSL, and as FSL sees more such samples, it gets better and better,” a Meta spokesperson told Arab News.

So far, the new model has been tested on only a few problems. Although it is trained on all the integrity-violating policies that are a part of Meta’s community standards, it has been deployed on select events such as misleading information around COVID-19 and hostile speech related to bullying, harassment, violence and incitement, the spokesperson added.

According to initial tests, the company said, the new AI system was able to correctly detect posts that traditional systems may miss and helped reduce the prevalence of harmful content. Meta is currently working on additional tests to improve the system.

“We have seen that in combination with existing classifiers along with efforts to reduce harmful content, ongoing improvements in our technology and changes we made to reduce problematic content in News Feed, FSL has helped reduce the prevalence of other harmful content like hate speech,” said the spokesperson.

The FSL model shows just how reliant Facebook, now Meta, is on AI. In its latest earnings call, the company said that it expected capital expenditures of $29 billion to $34 billion next year compared with $19 billion this year.

David Wehner, chief financial officer of Meta, said that a large factor driving this increase is “an investment in our AI and machine learning capabilities, which we expect to benefit our efforts in ranking and recommendations for experiences across our products, including in feed and video, as well as improving ads performance and relevance.”

Although FSL is in its early stages, “these early production results are an important milestone that signals a shift toward more intelligent, generalized AI systems that can quickly learn multiple tasks at once,” Meta said in the blog post, adding that the company’s long-term vision is to achieve “human-like learning flexibility and efficiency.”


Georgia jails prominent critical journalist

Georgia jails prominent critical journalist
Updated 16 May 2022

Georgia jails prominent critical journalist

Georgia jails prominent critical journalist
  • Lawyer: Political repressions are under way in Georgia
  • Rights groups have also concern over media freedom in Georgia

TBILISI: Georgia on Monday jailed for three and a half years a prominent journalist and owner of the country’s most popular television station critical of the Black Sea nation’s government.
Nika Gvaramia, an anchor and owner of the pro-opposition Mtavari TV, was found guilty of harming financial interests of a television station he had earlier run, a judge of the Tbilisi city court said.
Gvaramia has also been a lawyer of Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili who is serving a six-year jail term for abuse of power — a conviction he has denounced as politically-motivated.
Gvaramia has said his case was aimed at silencing critical media.
His lawyer Dito Sadzaglishvili said that the verdict was illegal, adding that “Gvaramia was taken into political captivity.”
“Political repressions are under way in Georgia,” he said.
“In democratic countries, journalists are not jailed for their dissenting views.”
Georgia’s prominent TV personalities and managers have long accused the ruling Georgian Dream party’s government of using the judiciary to stifle independent voices.
Rights groups have also expressed concern over media freedom in Georgia, saying managers and owners of nearly all independent TV stations critical of the Georgian government are under investigation.
Georgia’s rights ombudsperson, Nino Lomjaria, and Transparency International said Sunday they had studied Gvaramia’s case and found no proof of wrongdoing.
In October 2015, Gvaramia said a government middleman had threatened to release secretly-recorded videos showing what he described as his “private life” in an attempt to force him to quit journalism.
In 2007-2009, Gvaramia held several government posts in Saakashvili’s cabinet, overseeing his anti-corruption crusade.
Independent media in Georgia has often had fraught relations with authorities since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.


Facebook: from Harvard dorm to global phenomenon

Facebook: from Harvard dorm to global phenomenon
Updated 16 May 2022

Facebook: from Harvard dorm to global phenomenon

Facebook: from Harvard dorm to global phenomenon
  • Young users increasingly desert it for the likes of TikTok or Snapchat, but with 1.96 billion users, one-quarter of the globe’s population, it remains the biggest social media platform

WASHINGTON: Key chapters in the history of Facebook, the world’s biggest social media application, which marks the tenth anniversary Wednesday of its stock market debut.

In 2003, 19-year-old Harvard computer whiz Mark Zuckerberg begins working out of his dormitory room on an online network aimed initially at connecting Harvard students.
The following year he launched thefacebook.com with three Harvard roommates and classmates: Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz.
As membership is opened up to other colleges around North America Zuckerberg quits his studies and moves to Silicon Valley.
The new company receives its first investment from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who stumps up $500,000, and officially changes its name to Facebook in 2005.

In 2006, US media conglomerate Viacom and Yahoo make separate plays for Facebook, but both are turned down.
Microsoft takes a $240 million stake in the company a year later, by which time Facebook has 50 million users.
That year sees Zuckerberg admitting to privacy-related “mistakes” for the first time, over an ad platform called Beacon that tracked purchases made by Facebook members and let their friends know what they had bought.
In 2008, the platform topples MySpace to become the world’s most popular social networking website and launches its first mobile app the following year.

David Fincher’s story of the origins of Facebook, “The Social Network,” hits movie theaters in 2010 and wins Oscars for best adapted screenplay, original score and film editing.
Time magazine that year names Zuckerberg as Person of the Year for “transforming the way we live our lives every day.”
As membership rockets, Facebook plays a growing role in shaping public debate.
In 2011, the platform plays a key role in giving a voice to disillusioned Arab youth in the Arab Spring of revolts that began that year in Tunisia.

In 2012, Facebook snaps up photograph-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion and files for an initial public offering.
The biggest IPO ever in the tech sector raises some $16 billion and values the company at $104 billion.
A hoodie-clad Zuckerberg remotely rings the Nasdaq bell from Facebook’s California headquarters on the first day of trading.
By October 2012, Facebook’s membership has topped one billion.

In 2014, Facebook pays a small fortune to try boost its popularity among younger smartphone users by buying messaging platform WhatsApp in a cash and stock deal valued at $19 billion.
As it continues moving up in the world, it moves into new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Silicon Valley, with a rooftop park and “the largest open floor plan in the world.”

In 2016, Facebook is embroiled in controversy over Russia’s alleged use of it and other social media platforms to try influence the outcome of the election that brought Donald Trump to the White House.
In 2018, Facebook is again at the center of scandal after it emerges that British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica stealthily harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users and used it for political purposes, including trying to rally support for Trump.
Zuckerberg is grilled in the US Congress over Facebook’s handling of user data and the way the network is being manipulated to undermine democracy.
The Facebook boss vows to do more to combat fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech and to tighten data privacy.

In 2021, Zuckerberg announces that Facebook has changed its company name to Meta — Greek for “beyond” but also meaning the metaverse — the virtual world which he sees as representing the future of the Internet.
On February 3, 2022, the company’s share price plunges, wiping more than $200 billion off its market value after it warns of slowing revenue growth.
As young users increasingly desert it for the likes of TikTok or Snapchat, the company admits to losing a million active daily users. But with 1.96 billion users, one-quarter of the globe’s population it remains the biggest social media platform.
 

 


Blinken offers support to family of slain Palestinian journalist

Blinken offers support to family of slain Palestinian journalist
Updated 15 May 2022

Blinken offers support to family of slain Palestinian journalist

Blinken offers support to family of slain Palestinian journalist
  • At her funeral on Friday, baton-wielding Israeli police descended upon mourners and grabbed Palestinian flags
  • Blinken offered the support of US diplomats in Jerusalem to the family of Abu Akleh

BERLIN: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Sunday for a “credible” investigation into the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as he offered condolences to her family.
Blinken said he spoke with the brother of Shireen Abu Akleh, who was a US citizen, during his flight Saturday to Berlin for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
“I had a chance to express deep condolences for her loss, our deep respect for the work that she did as a journalist for many years,” Blinken told reporters in Berlin.
He said he discussed the “need to have an immediate and a credible investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.”
He said the Al Jazeera journalist was “widely respected around the world.”
Blinken offered the support of US diplomats in Jerusalem to the family of Abu Akleh, who also held US citizenship, a US official said.
Al Jazeera said Israel shot her “in cold blood.” Israel, which has been facing a series of attacks, initially said Palestinian gunmen could be to blame before backtracking and promising to investigate.
At her funeral on Friday, baton-wielding Israeli police descended upon mourners and grabbed Palestinian flags, with the pallbearers struggling not to drop her casket.
Blinken earlier said he was “deeply troubled” by the Israeli police’s actions and the State Department urged a transparent investigation into her killing.


Egypt slams Israeli attack on funeral of Al Jazeera journalist

Egypt slams Israeli attack on funeral of Al Jazeera journalist
Updated 14 May 2022

Egypt slams Israeli attack on funeral of Al Jazeera journalist

Egypt slams Israeli attack on funeral of Al Jazeera journalist
  • Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian, was killed on Wednesday by an Israeli bullet in the face

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry expressed its “total rejection and strong condemnation of the attacks on the funeral of the late Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli authorities.”

Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said: “Such unacceptable … attacks represent a violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and the sanctity of the dead.”

The official Palestine News Agency reported that dozens of participants in the funeral procession of the Al Jazeera journalist suffered suffocation, bruises and fractures due to the Israeli police assault on them.

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian, was killed on Wednesday by an Israeli bullet in the face while covering an operation by Israeli forces in Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

The UN Security Council condemned her killing, calling for “an immediate, thorough, transparent, fair and impartial investigation,” and stressing the need to ensure accountability.


Palestine-Israel: NYT, BBC and AFP slammed for ‘shamelessly’ inaccurate framing of journalist Abu Akleh funeral clashes

Police forces charged at the crowd carrying the coffin, kicking and beating pallbearers with batons. (AFP)
Police forces charged at the crowd carrying the coffin, kicking and beating pallbearers with batons. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2022

Palestine-Israel: NYT, BBC and AFP slammed for ‘shamelessly’ inaccurate framing of journalist Abu Akleh funeral clashes

Police forces charged at the crowd carrying the coffin, kicking and beating pallbearers with batons. (AFP)

LONDON: Analysts, journalists and more criticized “inaccurate” and “misleading” headlines and tweets published by Western media outlets such as the New York Times, BBC and AFP regarding slain Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and the clashes that ensued at her funeral procession.

Shocking scenes of violence broke out at Abu Akleh’s funeral as Israeli police officers charged at mourners carrying the journalist’s coffin through Jerusalem’s Old City. Police forces charged at the crowd carrying the coffin, kicking and beating pallbearers with batons.

Tear-gas shells and rubber bullets were hurled at chanting mourners in an attempt to stop them from raising Palestinian flags in the old city.

“Shireen Abu Akleh funeral sees clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian mourners in Jerusalem,” read a New York Times headline on Friday, which was criticized for “shamelessly equating the victims with the aggressors,” journalist and commentator Eyad Abu Chakra tweeted.

And the New York Times was not the only publication that was criticized, with the BBC tweeting that “violence broke out” at the slain Al-Jazeera journalist’s funeral as her coffin was “jostled as Israeli police and Palestinians clashed as it left hospital.

“Israeli occupation forces attacked the funeral procession, beat mourners, caused her casket to fall to the ground and the BBC tweets one of the worst obfuscations of Israeli violence yet,” AJ+’s Sana Saeed tweeted.

Bassam Khawaja, co-director of the Human Rights and Privatization Project at NYU’s School of Law, called the tweet “essentially misinformation from the BBC.

“I don’t know how you get from what has been widely acknowledged as a one-sided attack on a funeral procession to ‘violence breaks out.’”

Another tweeter, Kira Davidson, wrote: “Western media has really been telling on itself throughout its coverage of Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder and funeral. To call this anything but violent suppression in support of apartheid is a grave injustice to her memory and her work as a journalist, and a failure in reporting.”

Even Western news media’s reporting on Abu Akleh’s cold-blooded killing was highly inaccurate.

“Shireen Abu Akleh, Trailblazing Palestinian Journalist, Dies at 51,” read the New York Times article on her death. Abu Akleh was shot in the head while covering an Israeli raid in Jenin; she was wearing a press jacket.

“This reads like an obituary headline for someone who died in their bed. There is no world in which it’s acceptable, and it happens over and over again,” Khawaja wrote in another tweet.

“I understand we don’t yet have all the facts. And keep in mind that editors, not reporters, write headlines. But this wording was a deliberate choice, and it blatantly misrepresents what happened today.”

Jewish Voice for Peace, a human rights organization, posted on its Instagram account a more precise rephrasing of the headline — “Shireen Abu Akleh, Trailblazing Palestinian Journalist, Assassinated by Israeli Sniper While Wearing a Press Vest and Reporting on Israeli Military Violence.”